Wednesday, 3 June 2015

"The Life of Rebecca Jones," tranquillity, and the Tao

I'm minded, as politicians rather pompously say, to carry on with the theme of how we face the declines and dependencies which many fear in old age. However, I've just read something truly extraordinary so of course I have to write about it.

May I introduce you to

 Angharad Price. She is an academic and a writer in Welsh; mercifully, for speakers of mere phrase-book Welsh such as me (mae'n drwg gen i) her book about her family roots in a Merionedd valley was translated into English. I've just started reading it; it's going to be a wonderful read.

In the foreword, Ms Price writes about tranquillity, "the reversal of creation. The perfection of an absence."

She goes on: "Tranquillity can belong to one place, yet it ranges the world. It is tied to every passing hour, yet everlasting. It encompasses the exceptional and the commonplace. It connects interior with exterior. The creator of tranquillity was the guardian of paradox. From the moment of conception until the moment of death, tranquillity is within and without us. But in the tumult of life it is not easily felt. .... when our senses are spent we seek tranquillity. And as we age, our search for it becomes more passionate, though never easier."

She writes about peace, tranquillity, as "a transparency between myself and the world," and she says she has encountered it many times, only to lose it again.

You can't hold on to it. There's no point striving for it. It's not amenable to conceptual analysis. It's there all the time. You just have to let yourself be with it by leaving your self behind.

Call it the Peace of God which passeth understanding, call it the Way, the Tao, a mystical experience, a sense of unity with the world. Call it a transparency between myself and the world. We can find it in meditation, in listening to what the water says, what the hills say. Call it what you like. "The name that can be named is not the eternal name." 

I find more and more often I want to be with what Ms Price calls tranquillity. "As we age, our search for it becomes more passionate, though never easier." Very true!

I think, as I read on, that this will prove to be a deceptively
profound, simply written and very wise book.

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